Monday, 21 November 2011

Of Dead Poets And Rudderless Ships

"Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary." - Robin Williams in the movie, Dead Poet's Society.

It is a well known trick among amateur writers, to start with a quotable quote, whenever you are short of an impressive introduction. This is not a different case, but I assure you that it is relevant to the piece.
I remember that in my high school days, we were often asked to write on a variety of themes. One particular essay, which happened to be a teacher's favourite was, "My Aim In life". Perhaps the motive was to arouse within us, a sense of purpose and help us decide our goals. However in essence, it meant that we had to chart our entire course of life within a thousand words. And every single time, I would find myself shuffling around my seat with uneasiness. How was I supposed to make such an important decision so early in my life? My 12 year old brain did not have thoughts deeper than an ice cream or maybe a game of cricket.

But the essay had to be completed. So I would begin, "An aimless person is like a rudderless ship........". I would ramble on and on about the importance of having an aim, about great men who realized their calling in their formative years . That was the easy part. The hard part was to question myself, "What was I passionate about? What was the one single thing that would make my life meaningful?". I could never come up with any answers. To be honest, I did not give it a serious thought. For the purpose of completing the assignment, I would make a random choice.  Well my choice of profession would change every year and they ranged from the insipid to the bizarre. A fighter pilot, an investigative reporter, a traffic policeman, a motorcycle racer, a nature photographer - I have donned several roles in the pages of my notebook. If I ever ran out of ideas (or if I wanted a higher grade), I would always fall back on "a teacher". 

When it was time for me to make a choice, I did and I do not regret it. But I often wonder I was meant to do something different. At this point in my life, I think I understand enough to say that it is an unfair question to ask of a child. For it does not encourage a child to think for himself. It encourages an ethic that professional accomplishments is the key to a successful life. The world is full of possibilities and the only thing a child needs to be made aware of, is to look for the potential that he has within himself. That he does not necessarily have to follow a road, maybe he can make one of his own. Maybe the ideal thing to do, is to explore all the trails in life before deciding which path to take. That is perhaps what the movie "Dead Poet's Society" attempted to portray (not very convincingly though). That one must shed the principle of conformity to realize the potential in themselves; to rise beyond what is mundane to reach what is exciting. We are asked to view the world from a set perspective and as a consequence we end up following a stereotype. If necessary, we must perch ourselves in an altogether new vantage point and then the view might become much clearer to us.

Just to humour myself, I pause to think what if now I could turn back time and return to the point where I could be allowed to chose a calling for myself. Well if God was generous enough to change the laws of physics for me, I would like to state for the record that I would like to venture into the field of film making. I have seen enough mediocre movies to realize that very few people involved in this field have appreciation for the art that that it is. Ah! To be able to present a visual medium to your thoughts; to show to everyone a world you think is possible- the very thought of it makes me drunk with ecstasy. Maybe I’m kidding myself, nonetheless I would like to close my eyes and think that it is still possible.